Sunday, September 9, 2007

Wayback Machine, Part 2: At Home with Mike and Lisa

Continuing the series of posts rescued from the Mobius Home Video Forum, here is a little reportage from one of my visits to Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video, and Lisa Petrucci, kick-ass kutie artist extraordinaire. Original post date November 5, 2003.

At home with SOMETHING WEIRD's Mike Vraney - full-color photo reportage!

I've had the privilege of knowing Mike Vraney of Seattle's Something Weird Video for several years know, ever since he visited Sweden in 1999 for the SOMETHING WEIRD 2000 tour. With him were the legendary David Friedman, full of stories about the old days of exploitation cinema (he calls Mike his "illegitimate son"!) and Vraney's life partner, "kick-ass kutie" artist and SW art director Lisa Petrucci.

After that, I've had the opportunity to visit Mike and Lisa in Seattle a few times, most recently this October. We first went to Towers to get DVD's. Mike wanted BLACK SCORPION but it wasn't out yet, so he got THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) instead - "The best movie ever made!" according to Mike. At the house, we watched a dupe of the director's cut of EQUINOX (apparently also "The best movie ever made!") and checked out Mike's gigantic DVD collection. Lisa cooked dinner and we watched some amazing Mexican 60's fantasy films, including the incredibly weird SHIP OF MONSTERS (again, "The best movie ever made!" - this time I agree!)

When driving along with Mike, after a visit to a Burgermaster drive-in restaurant (great burgers - too bad the waitresses don't have roller skates anymore!) the topic of Mobius came up. Mike does not use a computer, but he does get print-outs from Mobius discussions sometimes, and has a good laugh at them! I said that Mobius readers would be interested in knowing a little more about how he lives and works. Since Mike is notoriously camera shy, I was very surprised to hear him go: "Hey - let's do it! You can take some photos! Let's make it totally staged and fake!"

So here we have it, Mike Vraney at his desk, working on the latest SW release (or is it?!)

The Vraney-Petrucci family home is an amazing place, full of collectors items from the American culture that SW is devoted to preserving - posters, board games, books and comics, dolls and every other imaginable object. Mike has his own house adjacent to the family home, filled to bursting with even more stuff! Here are some highlights...

Parts of the Something Weird archives:

A miniscule part of one of Mike's particular collecting passions, board games:

Mike's favorite movie (Criterion special edition NOT forthcoming!):

Mike's video equipment ("Are you gonna post that so people can laugh about my outdated equipment?")

And Mike and Lisa in front of a great Spook Show poster:

Finally, I should mention that what gets Mike REALLY going right now is the punk band DEK - Mike is their manager, and the members (including Mike's son Mark) are all between 14 and 16 years old! They really kick ass - I saw a live tape. Mike used to manage punk bands before the SW era, and with his experience and the kids energy, don't be surprised if they are the biggest punk band in America in a few years...

Read the original post and responses here (courtesy of Wayback Machine).

September 9, 2007 postscript: I still hook up with Mike and Lisa occasionally - check my Chiller photos on Flickr - but it's been a while since I visited them in Seattle. The Something Weird DVD business seems to be doing well and Lisa's art career is really taking off lately. DEK have grown a little and their third album is available for download. I couldn't find the photo used in the original post so I picked the cute Wattatata cover art by Lisa instead.

The "Criterion special edition not forthcoming" quip about EQUINOX is because at the time, Criterion had acquired the film as part of a package from producer Jack Harris - but nobody would have believed they were actually going to release this goofy no-budget film! But in fact, against all odds a Criterion special edition did appear in 2006.

Finally, due to the response at Mobius, I posted an additional picture of Mike proudly showcasing his very first Something Weird video release!


Michael said...

Ho-lee shit! I'd like to poke around there for a day or two!

ROBERT c2dpli said...
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Thumbin Sleazoid Cinema said...

Glad you were able to save this article. I recently blogged about it at my blog:

Get Dorked! Zine said...

who took these photos. can i use em in my zine?